The desert, as the name would imply, is a pretty hot and dry place. Dubai in the summer months (like at the moment) is an oven. Highs some days over 50°C – often combined with 50 or 80% humidity – makes it a tough place for life. And it’s especially hard for stray animals, and gardens.
We had an Arabian cat move into our garage about 2 months ago. A lovely, friendly little guy with a massive purr, one of several displaced from the labour camp nearby when they tore it down and moved all the labourers away (his friends and carers). So he arrived with a humongous appetite. We fed him and took him to the vet to be sterilised, and he seemed quite happy. Every time we did our kettle-bell class in the garden he would follow us, meow a little and purr a lot, happy to have some company.
How Does TNR Help Feral Cats?
Through TNR, feral cats can live out their lives without adding to the homeless cat population. “It is very important to have all feral cats spayed/neutered, because it is the only 100-percent effective way to prevent unwanted kittens,” says Aimee Hartmann, Director of the ASPCA Mobile Clinic. “Feral cats are prolific reproducers.”
Furthermore, by stabilizing the population, cats will naturally have more space, shelter and food, and fewer risks of disease. After being spayed or neutered, cats living in colonies tend to gain weight and live healthier lives. Spayed cats are less likely to develop breast cancer and will not be at risk for ovarian or uterine cancer, while neutered males will not get testicular cancer. By neutering male cats, you also reduce the risk of injury and infection, since intact males have a natural instinct to fight with other cats. Spaying also means female cats do not go into heat and therefore they attract less tom cats to the area and reduce fighting. If cats are sterilised and live in a colony that has a caretaker, their life span may reach more than ten years.
How Does TNR Benefit the Community?
TNR helps the community by stabilizing the population of the feral colony and, over time, reducing it. At the same time, nuisance behaviours such as spraying, loud noise and fighting are largely eliminated and no more kittens are born. Yet, the benefit of natural rodent control is continued. Jesse Oldham, ASPCA’s Senior Administrative Director for Community Outreach and the founder of Slope Street Cats, an organization dedicated to feral cat welfare, notes, “TNR also helps the community’s animal welfare resources by reducing the number of kittens that would end up in their shelters—TNR creates more space for the cats and kittens who come to them from other avenues.”
from the ASPCA website
The other thing that struggles here is plants. As I have mentioned before everything has to be irrigated if it’s to survive the heat and basically non-existent rainfall. Gardens as we know and love them in other countries take an enormous amount of care; and investment in fertilizer, water and time. Our lawn has started dying – great big patches of dead grass have appeared seemingly at random. Very frustrating as it’s watered every day, but reading up online it seems maybe this is too much and now we have some dreaded fungal infection. Add to that the flowers in the front bed don’t seem to get an equal amount of water (the dumba** who did the garden put everything on one zone so there is not enough pressure) and they too are dying, whilst somehow the weeds (that the gardener does not see) thrive! Maybe I should just plant weeds instead and be done with it!